January 15, 2084
Where were her kids?
She wanted Cassie and Billy to see their father for breakfast when he woke up. He'd been commuting to Hong Kong and who knew what other places trying to drum up investments for their stricken area of New York State. In the kitchen, she cracked two eggs into a pan with butter and sank two pieces of rye bread into the toaster. She saw through the window that the latticework of ice on the Hudson River was hatcheted apart in last night's rainstorm. Her two children went out to play on the riverbank.
She heard a scream. She ran to the back door. The nine and eleven year olds in their parkas came bounding up the back lawn, what looked like ruptured earth pounded overnight then re-frozen. Cassie was wailing. Billy struggled to keep up with his older sister.
"Mommy!" her daughter cried.
She knelt to grab Cassie's shoulder at the door as Cassie puckered her face with disgust and held out her hands. In her mittens sat what appeared to be drenched black human hair. It was threaded through the eye sockets of a human skull.
She phoned the police. In minutes, she observed a two-man gyrocopter descend on the riverbank. On the street, a baby-faced cop waved away a news van from their home. Four-fifths of this block had moved away in the last year anyway, and the houses around them stood abandoned, dingy and unsellable. She watched police officers trudging from the scene in front of her house. A ravaged-looking, old woman in a doorway across the street seemed to snap emotionally. She shrieked hysterically and wouldn't stop. Another breakdown. Everything was dreadful.
The young mother watched as the cops carried something they dredged from the Hudson. She spotted three skeletal fingers, like two were chewed off, which hung twig-like from the hammock. Snagged on a bone was a golden bracelet with a cursive letter "M." It looked expensive, she thought.